Gemma Cairney presents The Sound Odyssey, a new four-part series on BBC Radio 4

TV and radio presenter Gemma Cairney takes listeners on a new four-part arts series this September with The Sound Odyssey

Wednesday 12, 19 & 26 September and 3 October, 9am-9.30am

with Charlotte Church, Johnny Flynn, Nadine Shah and Kojey Radical


BBC Radio 4

In this series of programmes Gemma accompanies four well-known British artists as they take part in musical collaborations in four different countries around the world, showing both the artists and the local music scenes in a new light, and resulting in four specially-commissioned new pieces of music.

Nadine Shah travels to Beirut, Johnny Flynn travels to Colombia, Charlotte Church to Georgia and Kojey Radical to Ghana.

Throughout each programme Gemma and each of the four artists explore their own artistic processes as they create a new piece of music, in collaboration with a local artist, in different and unfamiliar surroundings.

Gemma Cairney says: “Acting as tour guide on The Sound Odyssey has been exhilarating and enriching, not least for the opportunity to map out and present a series that demonstrates my personal belief in the ability to connect the human experience globally via the power of music.

"I’m in love with this series for so many reasons, from discovering the roots and ambition behind 1960s Ghanian, High Life music and combining that with the tenacity and poetic progressiveness of Kojey Radical in Accra, to watching Johnny Flynn tear down language barriers in a studio dripping with sweat in Bogota, and hearing Nadine Shah’s pounding post-punk vocals seamlessly mesh with traditional Arabic instruments. We went for it and experimented, and I think the music we made is fascinating.”

In the first episode 2018 Mercury Prize-nominated Nadine Shah, a British Muslim artist, travels to Beirut to collaborate with Lebanese singer songwriter and musicologist Youmna Saba. The challenge will be for them to create a track in Beirut in just two days. Whilst in the city Gemma Cairney speaks to artists and musicians in the local art scene, including Syrian band Tanjaret Daghet.

Episode two follows musician and actor Johnny Flynn as he heads to Bogota in Colombia. Here he collaborates with Carmelo Torres, the Colombian accordion legend of Cumbia, to combine his British folk storytelling with the folk sounds of Colombia.

In the third episode, MOBO-nominated musician Kojey Radical travels to Ghana, a country that he hasn’t been to since he was 12 years old.

Born and raised in East London, 25 year-old Radical is a spoken word-poet and rapper, a dancer, model, illustrator and video artist. The son of Ghanaian parents, he grew up channelling his energy into writing poetry, and went on to study illustration at London College of Fashion before turning to music.

His sound is a unique blend of soul, jazz and gospel, grime, rap and electronica. Kojey collaborates in Accra with Kyekyeku, part of a new generation of young lively Ghanaian musicians combining the musical traditions of highlife and afrobeat, who also sees himself as a social chronicler of contemporary Africa.

In the final episode, Welsh singer-songwriter, actress and political activist Charlotte Church travels to Kutaisi in Georgia to learn about Georgian polyphonic singing, a genre of music she’s fascinated by.

Situated on the border of Europe and Asia, Georgia has a strong history of Polyphonic singing, at celebrations as well as in everyday life, and was recognized by UNESCO as a Human masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage in 2001. Kutaisi has connections with Wales, having been twinned with the town of Newport since 1989. The two countries are similar in size and population; both are mountainous with their own distinctive language and culture and both are strongholds of singing and rugby.

TX details
The Sound Odyssey
Wednesday 12, 19 & 26 September and 3 October, 9am-9.30am

Presented by Gemma Cairney
Produced by Jax Coombes
A BBC 6 Music Production for BBC Radio 4

Source BBC Radio 4

August 8, 2018 5:25am ET by BBC Radio 4  

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